A comparatively modest gathering stood by Salisbury City Councilman (and former mayor) Jim Ireton as he embarked on his quest to unseat current Congressman Andy Harris in Maryland’s First Congressional District. And his opening salvo naturally was critical of the incumbent:
I’m here (in Crisfield) today because the 1st District needs a Congressman who won’t just say no and vote no. In just 6 years in Washington, Andy Harris has done nothing for the people of the 1st District.
Crisfield, the southernmost city in Maryland, was chosen by Ireton because it was hit hard in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy, with Ireton contending it has not recovered. Jim chastised the incumbent because “he voted against $9.7 billion in hurricane relief.”
So I did a little research. It turns out the $9.7 billion bill Harris voted against was a measure to extend the borrowing authority for FEMA. Harris later voted against the overall supplemental appropriations bill but supported a substitute which would have offset $17 billion in approved aid by making other cuts (making it budget-neutral.) He ended up voting for a different appropriations bill that improved the original but did not clear the Senate. You may recall many were concerned about the budgetary impact in that era of sequestration.
Ireton went on about how Harris doesn’t support farmers and voted multiple times to repeal Obamacare before stepping boldly into Jim Crow territory.
He wants to return us to the days of insurance companies legally discriminating against Americans. Just like landlords in the 1950s could tell a black family no, and do so legally, Andy Harris wants to give insurance companies the legal right to say no to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
I think Jim forgets that insurance companies are like any other business as they need to be profitable to survive. Then again, that can be expected of a mayor who enacted the “rain tax” in Salisbury and decided landlords shouldn’t charge what he considered excessive rent.
And in the department of “it takes two to tango”:
From here on, it’s going to get ugly – Andy Harris will make sure of that. He will attack me as a person, and attack the issues you care about. He will issue dire warnings about taxes, even though I have a record of cutting fees as the mayor of Salisbury. He will issue dire warnings about crime, even though Salisbury’s Part I Violent Crimes dropped every year I was in office, and dropped almost 50% over my 6 years as mayor. He will try and scare farmers, even though the Wicomico River is now healthier than it’s been in decades due to the work of the city while I was in office. And I can only imagine what he will make up to say about me personally. (Emphasis mine.)
I noted back in October when the rent stabilization program was bounced out of City Council that Ireton is in a catbird seat of sorts. During the next 9 1/2 months, assuming he wins the primary – and he is the prohibitive favorite given the field – Ireton can take credit for all of the city’s successes by saying that he initiated them as mayor, yet any failures will see Jake Day thrust in front of the nearest Shore Transit vehicle. I figured that Jim was simply using the office to cool his heels for a later political run, but my error was in assuming that he’d have the decency to at least wait until the results became official before jumping into his next campaign, not spill the beans on election night. (Had he upset just 33 of his prospective voters enough to make them change their minds. he would have had a lot more time to run.)
Harris now has a challenge from both the Democrat and Republican sides, with both being uncommonly well-known entities. It’s the first time he’s had elected officials against him since he took office in 2011. And it already is ugly with push polls and charges of not doing his job, so we’re already on the glide path to a nasty campaign.
I bring you this not necessarily as an event to attend – although if you are in the Smyrna area and/or interested in the 9-12 Delaware Patriots it’s probably well worth your while – but as something to keep in mind for future reference. In this region there’s someone who knows about such survival techniques as these.
You can dismiss this as the paranoia of the far right – those dismissed as “preppers” – but many of these skills may be useful if (or perhaps when) we run into a situation where food, water, and electricity are in short supply or unavailable for weeks. Those who were directly affected by Superstorm Sandy had a taste of this life, but if the dire predictions of an EMP-induced power failure are correct we could be in such a situation for months at a time. (At that point, however, the prospects of canning and sustainable farming may be much less important than the marksmanship aspect of the course.)
It seems to me that this sort of course could be useful in a location closer to home – perhaps as an event for the Worcester County TEA Party. (Something they sent to me will be the subject of a post tomorrow.) Most of those on the other side of the political aisle will be instead waiting for the white knights of FEMA to roll in and save the day, but the government can only do so much for you – it’s what they can do to you that worries many on the conservative side of the spectrum.
Put another way, many of these skills were second nature to our great-grandparents, but having the ease and comfort of a modern society made them irrelevant for the modern world. When dinner is as easy as going online and using your debit card to have something delivered to your front door, the usefulness of fire starting without matches, canning, and hydroponics can be questioned. Take that ease and comfort away, though, and the tune changes rapidly.
America has been blessed for a long time, in no small measure thanks to the sacrifices of those we honor this weekend in general and Monday in particular. But a little rugged individualism never hurt anyone and it would be interesting to bring such an event to our part of the peninsula.
The story I’m going to reference is a few days old, but the point made is still valid.
On Monday the Washington Times ran this piece which simply restated facts many already knew, but made them clear for comparison’s sake: the entirety of this year’s tax increase on the rich was spent on one storm’s relief. Obviously insurance companies and other private-sector industries had sizable losses on Superstorm Sandy as well, but for the insurance industry it’s chalked up as the cost of doing business and over time they will raise rates (and/or deny coverage) to eventually make themselves whole.
But this piece isn’t being written to argue whether government assistance of victims of freakish weather is good policy. We’ve spent the equivalent amount to all these billions (and more) in recent years to prop up failed businesses, subsidize those in industries the market deemed not ready for prime time, and in giveaways to tinpot dictators around the world. We’ve created weaponry for which there may not be an application, paid producers not to produce, and tried to build nations out of subjects unwilling to cooperate. And $50 billion doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the overall sum millions feel they are entitled to by virtue of reaching a certain age and having a few pennies on the dollar deducted from their paychecks over the lifespan of their respective careers.
To sum up: it’s chump change.
Yet I don’t want to make the case that those who are affected aren’t going to miss it. While I don’t think anyone is going to go to the Jersey Shore specifically to see where their share of the $50 billion went – in many cases, the repairs and spending won’t be on the drawing board until later this summer anyway, with some infrastructure reconstruction still years away – the Times story illustrates once again the folly of Band-Aid solutions to our chest wound of deficit spending.
Moreover, the old saw about raising taxes in a recession? Well, if the economic figures from the fourth quarter of 2012 hold up, we’re halfway to a recession right now. Of course there’s always the prospect for an “adjustment” in the next quarter which will goose the GDP just to the growth side of zero, but most people are believing their own eyes rather than the media hype – consumer confidence is down, the 2012 holiday season shopping was pretty much a bust, and I read a Rasmussen Poll this morning that fewer than 2 in 5 of those surveyed think the economy will be better in five years; the lowest mark since the question was first asked in 2009. (At that time over 3 in 5 believed the economy would be better. Fooled you!) In the perception of many, we are indeed in a recession and the government’s only solutions seem to be promises and handouts. In the oft-quoted words of Margaret Thatcher, that works until you run out of other people’s money.
It’s rather unfortunate that Barack Obama and Harry Reid received another four and two years, respectively, to continue to plunder the pocketbooks of those they deem able to afford such a financial flogging, print more money, and create IOUs to handle the rest. Most of those who have even the tiniest sliver of common sense know that’s not the long-term solution, but voters placed Obama and Reid at the helm, the captains of the government Titanic approaching the financial iceberg dead ahead. And the leaky lifeboat commanded by John Boehner at the House is little better; look for small business owners to be swept overboard and drown in the sea of red ink created by a system which has finally shown itself to be the unsustainable one many seers knew it would be, a theory derived from a careful reading of history.
In general I’m an optimist, and perhaps we as a nation can avoid the iceberg and the rocky shoals which await us about our current course. With luck we can navigate a safe passage with the proper austerity program and leadership back toward a government restored to its rightful place.
But we have placed ourselves in a situation where the results are more likely to be worse than better, as tonedeaf Washington leadership continues on a course to economic destruction. If you thought the “fiscal cliff” was a steep precipice, the chasm of our unfunded liabilities could be the bottomless pit. Mixed metaphors aside, the reality is we aren’t in good shape and solutions won’t be coming very quickly from Washington.
After a long hiatus caused by Hurricane Sandy and the holiday season, members of the Wicomico County Republican Club gathered for the first time in nearly two months and in their first formal meeting since late October, before the 2012 elections. No business was transacted at the club’s last get-together, which was their annual Christmas party in early December.
While the 2012 election was touched upon, the upcoming balloting was the topic that featured speaker and State Party First Vice-Chair Diana Waterman would refer to regularly in her remarks. “Lord knows 2014 has got to be better than 2012,” Waterman commented.
Instead, she and the MDGOP wanted to use the election of 2010, where downticket Republicans were successful, as a springboard for the 2014 election. The six House of Delegates members our side picked up made a “humongous impact” by keeping bad legislation from passing, especially at the committee level, because one GOP member was added to each of the House of Delegates’ six committees. “I firmly believe in two-party government,” said Diana.
She spent a large part of her time discussing the MDGOP’s new Pathfinders initiative, which is loosely based on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program. It was meant to provide more and greater access to tools which could be provided by the state party as a candidate, committee, or group advanced on certain goals. As Diana reminded us, “doing the job is one thing, (but) getting elected is a whole new ballgame.” Municipal elections like the one in Salisbury are a “fabulous opportunity” to work on campaigns because of their smaller scale, Diana exclaimed.
But her final message was one of unity. “We have to stop (figuratively) shooting each other,” she said. “Put aside our differences.”
We also heard from a number of other observers, with the first report coming from Wicomico County GOP Chair Dave Parker.
Parker announced the Lincoln Day Dinner will be held March 23, a date which just happens to coincide with the Pathfinders training coming to Wicomico County. (The two are unrelated.) He also expounded on the recent efforts at gun control, pointing out he will have an editorial in next Sunday’s Daily Times. Dave also praised Delegate Mike McDermott for introducing some common-sense school security bills in the General Assembly.
Bonnie Luna, who helped run the Wicomico County GOP headquarters last fall, called her experience “amazing” and was pleased to present checks to both the Republican Club and the Central Committee out of the donations made at the facility. All told, thanks to the reimbursements made possible by the donations, the total expenditure to the WCRC was just under $800.
Luna also made sure to praise both Diana Waterman and former MDGOP Chair Audrey Scott, who accompanied Waterman to the meeting, as a source of inspiration (and supplies.) Scott remarked that she had never seen a headquarters repay its local sponsors, telling those in attendance that it was a “miracle” and “that miracle’s name is Bonnie Luna.”
Woody Willing provided turnout records for the 2012 election – as usual, GOP turnout outpaced Democratic efforts by six percentage points.
Finally, Salisbury City Council candidate Jack Heath was introduced to the audience and expressed his vision for the city, which was to enhance the quality of life by providing jobs and education, a vibrant downtown, and government adopting the best ideas regardless of their source. He pledged to work with whoever is elected mayor and City Councilman from District 1.
Two other announcements were made at the gathering: Joe Ollinger told us the Republican Club Crab Feast will be held September 7, and County Councilman Bob Culver revealed a hearing on the septic bill tier maps (last year’s SB236) will be held February 20 at 6 p.m. in the Midway Room of the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.
As for the Republican Club, their next meeting will be February 25, with a guest speaker to be determined.
Update: Jackie Wellfonder, who also attended the meeting, has her thoughts on what Waterman said on her site.
Update 2: In turn, more reaction to Wellfonder’s thoughts at Global Rhetoric, Joseph Steffen’s site.
Good for him. Too bad more Republicans didn’t have a spine.
It also looks like Roscoe Bartlett’s last vote is also against the deal, while all six Maryland Democrats obviously believe in hosing job creators. What do they care? Most of them have districts with overly proportionate numbers of government employees or government wards. Meanwhile, the Democrats are whining that there’s no vote on Hurricane Sandy relief, a bill stuffed with non-essential spending. So John Boehner may cave on that too.
And to think…the 113th Congress will have even fewer Republicans. Maybe next time we’ll show up at the polls enough to overcome the fraudulent press and other factors which led to the 2012 results. Regrets? You’ll have a few.
It’s not often that our little slice of Maryland makes national news, but Crisfield attorney John Phoebus struck a chord by promoting the latest White House petition. The petition, titled “Cancel the President’s vacation and send the $4 million it will cost to Somerset County, Maryland for disaster relief” reads as follows:
On December 3, 2012, President Obama denied the request of Governor O’Malley and the entire Maryland congressional delegation to award Individual Assistance to Somerset County, Maryland to recover from Hurricane Sandy.
Somerset County is Maryland’s poorest county. The towns of Crisfield, Fairmount, and Deal Island were devastated by the hurricane, with flood waters causing widespread damage. These poor, working waterfront communities were already fragile from the decline of the seafood industry. Super Storm Sandy left them with no where to turn except FEMA for assistance.
For the $4 million it will cost taxpayers for the President to vacation in Hawaii, we could rebuild Somerset County. The President should stay home and send our tax money to Somerset County to rebuild.
Okay, insofar as the main compare and contrast point I agree wholeheartedly; in fact, by making national news Phoebus is bringing attention to a part of the country arguably devastated as much as those areas around the New York City metroplex where news outlets like the Weather Channel camped out and breathlessly followed the story of devastation. Somerset County is much farther off the beaten track and not a lot of people live there, so no one cared. Even when a grocery store which had operated 64 years was shut down as a result of the storm, it attracted little notice.
But the question is also one of assuming it’s the federal government’s job to step in and bail us out. In all honesty, if someone handed a $4 million check to the residents of Crisfield, how would they divvy the money out? Furthermore, how quickly do you think the complaints would come that so-and-so was getting benefits while we weren’t? Or that the money wasn’t being spent properly – remember those debit cards handed out after Katrina? I suspect the government learned an expensive lesson.
Needless to say, in the great scheme of government spending $4 million is a rounding error. If you figure the number of people affected it would likely only be about $1,000 each, if that. That’s why I have to question Phoebus’s assertion that it would be enough to “rebuild Somerset County.” He correctly points out that the damage has long since been done since the seafood industry left, and $4 million won’t fix that either. Obviously it’s a completely symbolic gesture.
So far 3,440 have signed the petition, with a threshold of 25,000 to become eligible for a White House response. It’s likely that getting to 25,000 will take longer than the time remaining before Barack Obama steps onto Air Force One and jets off to Hawaii for the holidays, so the question may become moot.
I suspect what may happen this year is that certain one-time tax provisions will be made for victims of Sandy and millions will be doled out throughout the affected area to help particular victims. Somerset County won’t get rich from that, but I think that’s about the best they’ll be able to expect.
Updated at bottom, but as predicted early voting was extended through Friday, November 2.
Due to the possible effects of Hurricane Sandy, Governor Martin O’Malley has issued this statement:
Governor Martin O’Malley (Friday) issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency with respect to Hurricane Sandy. Depending on how the storm develops, Hurricane Sandy may have an impact on early voting, which is scheduled to take place between Saturday, October 27 and Thursday, November 1.
The Election Law provides that “[i]n the event of a state of emergency, declared by the Governor in accordance with the provisions of law, that interferes with the electoral process, the emergency proclamation may: (1) provide for the postponement, until a specific date, of the election in part or all of the State; (2) specify alternate voting locations; or (3) specify alternate voting systems.” Md. Code Ann., Election Law Article, Sec. 8-103(a).
The Governor’s Office and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency are actively monitoring weather developments in order to determine whether changes to the early voting schedule may be necessary to protect public safety. In the meantime, the State Board of Elections, the local boards, and all early voting locations should continue their preparations for early voting and ensure that all voting sites remain open and that all election staff report for duty.
As the storm stands at the moment (I’m writing this late Saturday night) the biggest impacts could come Monday into Tuesday, although deteriorating conditions may force a shortening of Sunday hours as well. My best guess is that whatever days are scrubbed will be added onto the back end, so losing Monday and Tuesday will likely mean early voting is extended into Friday and Saturday of this coming week.
Locally this may not matter as much since the Civic Center is also a polling place on Election Day (it just happens to be mine, so I know this.) But there may be other venues where interceding events place an extra financial strain on local boards of election which didn’t anticipate a change in schedule at this late date. It may also affect turnout slightly as two of the slower days of early voting are traded for two days with the potential for more activity, with an extra weekend day. Still, perhaps 80 to 90 percent of the in-person votes will be cast on Election Day itself.
Yet judging by this picture from Saturday interest in this election in general is high (h/t Jackie Wellfonder):
I don’t suspect the lines will be as long on Sunday and may not be present at all Monday and perhaps Tuesday. But there are a lot of people who want to vote; let’s hope they choose wisely.
Meanwhile, there are two other local events which could be jeopardized by Hurricane Sandy: a townhall meeting Andy Harris scheduled for Monday evening in Fruitland and the U.S. Senate debate on Tuesday afternoon at Salisbury University. If I still have power I will strive to keep readers abreast of developments in both.
Update, Sunday 2 p.m.: The Harris townhall slated for tomorrow has been scrubbed due to weather, according to the Congressman’s Facebook page. Same goes for early voting Monday, per an announcement from Governor Martin O’Malley.
Update 3, Sunday 5 p.m.: The PACE debate at Salisbury University involving the U.S. Senate candidates is another casualty of the weather.